Damian Lewis: A Complete Gent
by Staff | Blake Mill | June 20, 2018
Britain’s filmmaking industry is flourishing and perhaps second only to Hollywood in terms of volume and critical acclaim. It is renowned for producing quirky, offbeat films that stand in stark contrast to the standard Hollywood fare of action blockbusters. Tony Bracewell, the British comedy film producer, is one of the men on the vanguard of this industry. Here is his story.
What is it like working with big actors?
Tony: In the popular imagination, there’s a sense that some actors can be prima donnas and difficult to work with. Nothing’s been further from the truth in my experience. Actors – or ‘the Talent’ as they’re known in the industry – tend to be very hardworking, dedicated people. They want to do a good job and want challenging roles. We were incredibly lucky to have Damian Lewis play a cameo role in Bill. Again, you couldn’t have asked to work with a nicer guy. Everything he did was inch perfect and he was a complete gent.
Tell us about making your most recent film Bill?
Tony: When we made the comedy Bill we took the life of William Shakespeare and told it from a unique angle. The film critic Mark Kermode subsequently described it as being “hugely funny and filled with semi-historically literate gags interspersed with pure slapstick humour.”
One running gag in the script blended the tales of William Shakespeare and Dick Whittington. So, when young Bill Shakespeare leaves Stratford to make his fortune as a playwright, his cat is meant to follow him all the way to London. The trouble is to make that work, you need a cat to follow stage directions. We tried everything: laying trails of cheese on the ground, trails of ham, coercing, pushing, you name it. We had some great people on the film, but no one could make it work. At some point, we had to cut our losses and accept that cats cannot be herded!
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